What if I was a bomber on
a jam-packed local train?
By Mayank Aggarwal
Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) A lifeline for thousands of office-goers
and students commuting to and from Delhi, local trains are
a frighteningly easy terror target. The realisation came to
me as soon as I boarded a jam-packed train for a 20-minute
ride into the city.
our poor police-people ratio I know it is impossible to guard
every train or every inch of every station. But I still felt
was not a single uniformed policeman in sight when I entered
the Anand Vihar railway station in east Delhi to board the
train early one morning.
Anand Vihar railway station is being revamped to become a
mega railway station. The area is also important as it will
have a metro station; and there is already an inter-state
bus terminus operating there.
there was no one to check or frisk the scores of people trooping
in along with me into the train going towards New Delhi. There
were lots of people coming from towns adjacent to the national
capital, everybody had bags slung around, and some villagers
had huge cloth sacks packed with god knows what. No one had
had his or her belonging checked, just like me.
over the lack of security, I struck up a conversation with
a young college girl, Shruti Jindal, standing next to me.
you alarmed at not seeing any policeman around?" I asked
you just started travelling in local trains?" she replied
with a sarcastic smile. "Rarely do we find a security
man on these local trains. It is surprising that even after
the Delhi and Mumbai attacks, as well as the serial blasts
on Mumbai locals, security on these trains is so lax."
now, the train was approaching Patparganj and slowing down.
others tried to clamber on while the train was still moving.
I asked a fellow passenger if this was a common occurrence.
course. People regularly climb on to the train whenever the
train stops here in case the track ahead is not clear,"
said Ram Kumar, a regular commuter.
train then picked up speed and crossed the Yamuna river, the
Pragati Maidan exhibition ground station, and reached the
Tilak Bridge station, near the ITO crossing, where it stopped.
halted for less than a minute, during which hundreds got off
and many boarded the train.
thought was inescapable. Anyone could have planted an explosive
and escaped in the teeming crowd. I comforted myself thinking
that people are pretty aware now and looked around. Everybody
was immersed in discussing the elections, their office politics
and their relationships. No one seemed bothered.
out of the train at the Tilak Bridge Station, I saw only hawkers
and teeming crowds waiting for their trains and no comforting
men in khaki. True, the plainclothesmen might be there and
policemen are not always the most reliable, but the sight
of some would have helped dispel the lurking insecurity.
couple of minutes later, my train reached the Shivaji Bridge
station, which is quite close to Connaught Place, and I alighted.
looked around the station and finally spotted a lone policeman,
sitting on a bench. There was no frisking at this station
commute to Delhi daily from adjacent cities such as Meerut,
Ghaziabad, Sonepat, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Rohtak and Panipat.
Nearly 100 such trains run every day, according to a Northern
to the statistical inputs, Delhi Police estimates that there
is one police official for every 300 citizens. Not very encouraging,
about the security in these trains and stations, a senior
Northern Railway official requesting anonymity, said: "It's
not practically possible for us to guard every single coach
and station. The shortage of security personnel is hampering
our work and adding to our problems."
the 20-minute trip highlighted the huge chinks in our security
armour, it also made me realise that security agencies alone
cannot do anything. Citizens need to be on alert and be equal
partners in securing the country.
sounds grim, but I also think I know why people wish each
other a happy and safe journey.
Aggarwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)